Pechanga Hasn’t Changed Stance on PokerStars or Racetracks

Written By James Guill on April 23, 2015

It appears that the rumors of a Pechanga-PokerStars alliance were false.

According to comments made by the Pechanga during GiGse earlier this week, the tribe not only has not entered into any type of partnership but their stances regarding bad actors and racetrack participation have not changed in the slightest.

For weeks there have been rumors that the coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians had softened their stance on bad actors and was working on forming a partnership with PokerStars to possible hasten the online poker legislation.

Pechanga Still Does Not Support PokerStars in CA

GiGse 2015 was held earlier this week at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, CA. Internet gaming’s elite were in attendance to discuss all matters related to iGaming, including online poker legislation in California.

The California Panel on Tuesday proved to be quite informative but also showed that little progress has been made towards iPoker legislation in the state. This was most evident by the testimony given by Mark Macarro, Tribal Chairman for the Pechanga.

Macarro made it clear that the Pechanga do not support any bill that would allow PokerStars into the state. He followed this up stating that the blogs and rumors of a partnership with PokerStars were untrue, stating, “unequivocally that Pechanga has never suggested an alliance with PokerStars to get a bill done.

In addition, they still do not support the inclusion of either PokerStars or state racetracks.

Macarro continued to contend that their position on racetracks comes from their belief that online poker is an expansion of gambling. The state constitution forbids any expansion of gambling by racetracks and such measures have been defeated in the past.

Pechanga “Support” Online Poker But on Their Terms

Pechanga made it clear that they support online poker in the state, but it must be on their terms. This means an online poker market devoid of racetracks and of PokerStars. Macarro stated that the coalition has no intention of changing their view on PokerStars or bad actors.

Macarro also made an interesting point to certain analysts that have questioned whether the Pechanga actually wanted online poker in the state. He pointed out that if the Pechanga were opposed to online poker, they would have aligned with Sheldon Adelson rather than stand their ground on bad actors and racetracks. Instead, they are looking for “the right fit” for their concerns.

The Pechanga have also been discussing their own potential solution to the issues. Macarro shared that they have recently discussed a united coalition of tribes that could move forward iPoker legislation without racetracks. Of course, if such a coalition were to push through a bill without addressing racetrack concerns, Governor Jerry Brown has promised to veto the bill.

While other stakeholders expressed hope that a compromise can be reached in this process, it appears unlikely that one will be made this year. The Poker Players Alliance tweeted the following regarding what they heard during the CA Panel at GiGse 2015:

As long as the Pechanga continue to hold fast to their opposition of bad actors and racetrack participation, online poker legislation in the state will stall. Some are now saying that 2020 is the earliest we can expect online poker in the state.


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James Guill

Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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